Sandro Botticelli: Pallas and the Centaur (1482)


(Uffizi, Florence, Italy)

A painting by the Italian artist Sandro Botticelli (1445 - 1510). The painting depicts a centaur and a woman who is holding an halberd. The woman was first identified with Camilla, a female character from Virgil's Aeneid, but later with the goddess Minerva, the Roman equivalent of Pallas Athene. The two figures are probably an allegory centaurs are usually associated with uncontrolled passion, lust and sensuality. Minerva/ Pallas is the goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, strategic warfare, commerce, weaving, and the crafts. Minerva is holding the centaur by its hair: passion submits to reason. The dress of Pallas is decorated with the three ring insignia of the Medici family so the painting was commissioned by this important Italian family. An occasion for this painting was perhaps the wedding in 1482 of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici (1463 – 1503) to Semiramide Appiano, perhaps as a wedding gift from Lorenzo de' Medici. Painting from 1482.

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